Good Friday

We call it ‘Good’ but on the day Jesus was crucified it seemed to be nothing but bad for his disciples. “We had hoped …” they lamented as they mourned the death of hope. I wonder how Mary felt as she watched her eldest son humiliated, tortured and left to die in pain of slow suffocation.

We really want to move on to Easter Sunday. We now know that Good Friday is only part of the story - resurrection will come!

But we need to linger. We need to lament before we can really celebrate. This is true in natural circumstances of grief and loss but it is especially true of Good Friday.

Let’s linger and consider what was happening at the Cross.

It is too easy to slip into thinking “I sinned and need to pay the penalty - Jesus took the penalty in my place - so now it is all OK!” This assumes that God the Father is a harsh judge who would need a penalty to be paid for sin that only His Son could pay. Worse still it can lead to the heresy of thinking we worship three gods not One God in three Persons!

The New Testament paints a glorious picture of what happened at the Cross by using several different ways of describing it. But at the heart of it all, Jesus gave Himself to be crucified. What we see at the Cross is self-giving love - the nature of God!  

The problem was not just sin, in the sense of breaking a law, but goes deeper: sin is like a sickness that corrupts everything and we need to be cured. Death is a result of sin and we need a Saviour to defeat death and give us new birth. The devil has usurped Jesus’ place as Lord and only self giving love, trusting the power of resurrection, was enough to defeat evil.

Here are some examples of the New Testament describing what happened:

Ransom/redemption - Mark 10:45, Acts 20:28 and Titus 2:14.
Healing/new birth/eternal life - John 3 and 17:3
New covenant - Luke 22:20
Sacrifice - Luke 24:26, Rom 3:25, Gal 2:20 and 1 John 2:2
Victory - Col 2:13-15, John 12:31-33 and the gospel presentations in Acts
Reconciliation - Rom 5:11and Col 1:20
Exchange - Rom 5:8 and 2 Cor 5:21
New Creation - 2 Cor 5:17 and Rev 21:1-4
Revelation of God’s love - Rom 3:25 and Col 1:15.

Different examples, because the mystery of the Cross is deeper than we imagine. We cannot reduce what Jesus did to a set formula. Instead we need to introduce people to Jesus - it is only when we surrender to Him in worship that we start to understand more of the Cross!
- Chris Horton
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